It’s springtime and that means the festival season will soon be upon us. Whether you’ve offered festival coach hire for years or you’re just starting out, it’s important to stay informed of the latest information. And 2019 looks set to be the busiest year for festivals yet, with over 500 large-scale events scheduled to take place in the UK alone.
With that in mind, Sygnal has put together a handy guide for this festival season. Read on to discover the secrets to keeping festival-goers happy and establishing your company as the go-to for festival transport.
Transport hire is often the second port of call for festival attendees after booking their tickets. Festival organisers often partner with respected transport companies to combine ticket bookings with transport. The biggest festivals will likely have established business relationships with known operators. Smaller event organisers, however, could be receptive to developing new transport partnerships.
If you do procure a festival coach hire contract, it’s vital you can meet supply so pencil in tickets sale dates well in advance. Managing bookings is only possible with a coherent booking system, so check out our guide to streamlining the booking process on your website.
Only take bookings over the phone? Make sure you have an efficient system (and enough staff) to process the orders in a timely fashion. Remember, every missed call is a missed opportunity for more sales.
Simultaneously, it’s not unreasonable to request a deposit on large bookings, particularly if festival-goers want to book an entire vehicle.
Designate a pick-up-point well in advance. Of course, this point should be easily accessible to your vehicles and allow your vehicles time to idle. The pick-up point must be accessible to passengers too, especially as most will arrive with several days worth of supplies.
Simultaneously, make sure your drivers maintain ample space surrounding the vehicle so passengers can reach the underneath compartment to stow their luggage safely.
Be very clear on the departure time – particularly if you are travelling a significant distance to reach the festival grounds. If you’re supplying multiple vehicles, try to stagger them to arrive and depart at different times to prevent congestion.
The bigger the festival, the more logistics have (usually) been designated to assist traffic flow. However, larger festivals also mean more attendees, which mean more vehicles on the road. Either way, festival routes often become congested, sometimes days in advance of the event itself. It’s your job as a transport operator to figure out the least circuitous route for your passengers.
Of course, festivals are often staged in remote areas with limited access points, forcing vehicles to converge upon one particular route. There’s not much you can do once your vehicles hit this point. There are, however, ways to optimise the journey prior to this.
Sygnal’s fleet tracking software allows you to study journey times and identify bottlenecks on specific routes. Traffic updates provided through the GPS and onboard WiFi enable drivers to adapt routes according to anticipated journey times. Not only does this ensure passengers reach their destination in good time, but it also saves on fuel consumption.
At most major festivals, you as the coach provider will be responsible for sourcing your parking spaces. Smaller festivals may not have particular designations for specific operators, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead. Festival organisers will have a detailed layout of the festival grounds, which they should provide upon request.
The onus on establishing a reliable, safe parking procedure falls, of course, to the festival organisers. However, there are several steps you can take to simplify the process. Designating seating prior to boarding, along with organised luggage storage in the underneath compartment, enables passengers to disembark in an orderly fashion. Likewise, it’s important to make any requirements known in advance; for instance, if you are travelling with any passengers that require wheelchair access. These precautions help ensure an efficient drop-off process and show passengers you recognise them as more than just a number.
The type of passenger depends largely on the festival, but there are a few golden rules every operator should abide by.
State bus T&Cs on your website and ensure passengers are aware of them before boarding. This way, both driver and passengers can enjoy a safe, comfortable journey.
If you’re travelling a long distance and don’t have toilet facilities, make sure to stop every few hours. After every deboarding, run through a passenger check again (leaving passengers behind doesn’t exactly make for good PR).
If you allow alcohol to be consumed on board, be prepared for your passengers to get a little louder. Similarly, passengers drinking alcohol are likely to use your onboard facilities more frequently. If your vehicles don’t have onboard toilets, drivers should expect more frequent requests to stop, which risks disrupting your schedule.
Festival coach hire also represents a unique opportunity for coach hire companies. Onboard advertising can bring in additional revenues all year round. But when deployed through onboard WiFi on festival coach hire, operators have a specific audience with specific requirements. Attending a festival, especially one held in a rural area, requires provisions. Camping supplies, food, water, clothing, toilet roll, even electronic extras like power banks. Coach hire companies can gain an additional revenue stream through the sale of these provisions.
Coach hire operators can also gain advertising revenue by providing links to partner businesses. These businesses could be anything from companies with a festival stall to clothing from bands appearing at the event. Of course, these partnerships can take several festival seasons to develop, but they are worth investing in.
It’s fair to say that some passengers may not be in the best of shape for the return journey. That’s why it’s important you specify a pick-up location and time and stick to it. Multiple vehicle pick-ups, set over a staggered schedule, increase your chances of rounding up all passengers for the journey home.
It also helps to consider the mindset of your passengers on their return journey. They’ll likely be tired, elated and, if they’ve been camping, not as clean as they might like to be. Simultaneously, depending on the venue, many may have been without WiFi for days. This offers you another unique opportunity. Passengers can quench their thirst for data with your onboard WiFi, while you as the operator can promote suitable products through the advertising platform.
It’s not all about pushing promotions, however. Little touches like free bottled water or hygienic wipes can be a great way to end the trip with a smile. And happy passengers mean customers that are more likely to book with you again.
To find out more about festival coach hire, get in touch with Sygnal here.